Sunday, January 26, 2014

Greetings from Haiti!

Greetings from Haiti!  We have been here almost 2 weeks!  Hard to believe! It has gone by so quickly.  We are really loving it here. We have had some struggles and we have had some victories.  We have seen some amazing things and we have seen some devastating things. The Lord is truly at work in this country - at this base even.  We are in awe of what he is doing, even inside these walls.  I suppose we will back up and start at the beginning of our journey to Haiti this time. 
We started our journey to Haiti on January 3rd just after closing on the house; which is a huge praise in itself.  You see, we had to sell the house to be able to come to Haiti.  We were running on a very tight time frame and came to the realization that we would have to have a cash offer and it would have to come no later than Dec 15 in order for us to have the funds we would need to get started coming here.  December 12th rolled around and I began to get a little nervous...ok, a lot nervous.  Then I was told we would have an offer on Saturday and ... it would be a cash offer!!!  That meant we would be able to close in two weeks instead of the customary 4 weeks.  This was the only way we would be able to leave on time.  So, on Saturday morning our realtor met with the woman and by the aftn we had an offer in writing and we were able to come to an agreement and sign the papers that aftn.  The next day was our last day possible to purchase airfare and we were able to do so.  TOTALLY God's timing. 
We packed up the last bit of our things and we were ready to go.  We had closing in the morning and loaded up the truck and said our "see you laters" and off we went.   We drove from Moore and went to a dear friend's house in Arkansas and stayed for a couple of days.  We had a great time with our friends that we consider family.  We then headed to Bryan's brother's house in Georgia and stayed there for another few days.  It was great to spend quality time with my new sister in law and niece as well as Brett.  We left there and then spent the night in Florida to be at the airport in the morning on Friday Jan 10.  We really enjoyed being able to drive across the country and stop to visit our friends and family as we have never been the ones to travel as there are so many of us.   The great thing is it was less expensive for us to drive and visit with family than to fly out of OKC so it was a win - win.  Thanking God for those special memories! 
We arrived at the airport and corralled everyone and their belongings and headed to the kiosk to check in.  Of course, it wasn't working... lol  I then went to the counter and had an attendant helping check us in.. well two actually because there were so many of us.  They thought we were crazy to be traveling with kids and going to a 3rd world country and not having a return flight booked.  They called over team member after team member and got their opinion and the whole time I was thinking, you can have your opinion, but it doesn't matter; God said go and we are going!  Nothing will stand in the way of God y'all!  They questioned passports and visas and said "what are you thinking? You are traveling to Haiti with 4 children with no idea of a return date??"  I responded, "Actually, I am traveling with 6 children and yes, I am - with a smile!  We are following the Lord and we are going to be missionaries and will travel wherever he tells us and not worry about it because he's got it!"  They shook their heads and looked around in disbelief as they counted passports and kids.  They kept saying "we can't let you go."  The kids began to get nervous and saying "they aren't going to let us go??"  I told them it was ok and to just pray because God had it worked out.  We stopped right then and silently prayed.  As I said Amen the man said where is your luggage? He had the baggage tags printed out and my spirit jumped for joy!  I called out to Bryan to bring all the luggage over and they started tagging each piece.  The kids were thrilled and I was so relieved and thankful for God pulling through just like he always does.  The man said "good luck." We thanked them all for their help and the kids and I sat in the waiting area for Bryan to go drop off the truck and come back. 
We met a Haitian couple and were able to have a brief conversation with them in Creole.  That was fun!   The man spoke English too so that was a much longer conversation lol.  Bryan made it back in time, even with the slowest cab driver in Florida who was admittedly afraid to drive on the highway escorting him.  We went through security easily and were on our plane.  We sat on the plane for  a while waiting for take off.  We were getting everyone situated with pillows and headphones and I just couldn't get mine open.  I figured we had been on the ground for a while; what could it hurt to ask the attendant to help open them.  As I approached, I realized the cabin door had not been shut and the pilot and co-pilot were turned around watching me as I approached.  I explained my dilemma and asked for help.  I also inquired if there was something wrong with the plane that was delaying take off.  I was informed it was a sticker that was missing on one of the oxygen masks.  Not a big deal.  The attendant was unable to open the package and passed it to the pilot to try.  They both gave it a shot to no avail.  We all got a kick out of the fact that I had just purchased them in the airport and you would need a knife to open them; which of course is not going to be on the plane! Then the maintenance man came and of course he has every tool available and he quickly opened it for me.  YAY!  They replaced the sticker and we were cleared for take off.  1 1/2 hours later we were on the ground in this beautiful country! 
We stepped of the plane into a warm, muggy airport.  Flew through immigration with lots of smiles as they were happy to see the children.  The man welcomed our family to Haiti.  We made our way to baggage claim to get our things.  Thankfully we have been here before and knew where things were and how to proceed in the most efficient way possible with 8 of us.  All of our luggage arrived with no problem.  We loaded them on carts and made our way outside where the YWAM staff was eagerly awaiting our arrival.  You have to understand what a feat this is!  You see, there are masses of people arriving at the airport, masses of people waiting to pick up those arriving, and even more masses of people waiting to help carry out your luggage for a small fee or not so small if you don't know what's going on.  You have to be very determined in your actions and speech and refuse the help that is attempting to take your cart full of luggage from you and help you through the line if you don't want it.  Last time we actually had no idea of how this all worked and we told the men NO and they literally pushed Bryan off of the cart and took off with it.  This time I said NO MESI with my very determined look on my face and kept calling kids forward to keep up.  It worked!  Yay!  We did have one man who cleared our luggage without having it inspected and we paid him a few bucks as a thank you; Trust me.. that was worth it as we had 8 people's things all in totes and backpacks and we didn't need that hassle.  Not that they do it to everyone  but had w not paid him he would have done it and yeah, not something I wanted to deal with at that point. 
We loaded our stuff through the back window of the us and sat there visiting and enjoying the sights and sounds of the area as we waited for another DTS student Michaela to arrive on her flight.  Aaron was so exhausted form the week's travels and the day that he was so whiney and just wanted rest - understandably so!  He fell asleep right there, sitting up!  I laid him down and tried to keep him cool as he rested.  The other kids played UNO with Lizzy a DTS staff member while Bryan and I visited with Uncle Freeman -(Lizzy's uncle)  Once Michaela arrived we were cleared to we thought.  You see, the same bus that was picking us up had just dropped off another team that was due to fly out on the same plane that we had come in on.  Well, apparently there were more issues was the plane than the stickers for the oxygen masks.  The drug dogs surrounded the plane along with droves of police.  We were waiting for them to find out whether or not the plane was clear for use and if they would actually be able to fly out.  Call after call came and it was determined it would be a couple of hours before they even made a decision on it and so we headed home to the base as it was a couple of hour drive.  If it was cancelled then Freeman would send another bus back to get them. 
We had about a 2 hour drive back to the base and we watched the sun go down.  That is a beauty that will never grow old for me.  I just love seeing the Lord's glory on display in his beautiful creation.  Melt my heart.  about midway home Freeman got the call that the plane had indeed been rounded and all flights out of PAP were booked up and the team would have to stay another two days before being able to fly out.  Freeman had another team member from the base grab another vehicle and meet him along the way.  We switched drivers and Freeman headed back to the airport to pick up the other team and bring them back to the base.  Crazy!  Freeman was such a trooper!  He had already spent all day driving to and from the base and now turned back to do it all over again. 
We arrived on base and were taken to our home where everyone helped to unload our luggage and we were greeted by many and they even brought us fresh squeezed juice.  Our fridge was full of food for us to eat for dinner and it was one of my favorite Haitian meals!  Fried chicken with creole sauce, rice and beans, fries and this salad concoction that is actually onions, bell peppers, carrots and a spicy citrusy juice on it.  Amazing!  I was so happy to see it! LOL  We had our dinner and started to get settled in with our rooms and clothing put away.  We do have a large closet but no dressers in our room so ours are in our totes still but the kids have dressers and desks and were able to put it all away.  So there you have it!  We made it to Haiti!  We are already in love!  We are excited to see what God is up to and what is in store for us as we dedicate the next 5 months to wholeheartedly seeking him and his will for our lives.  We so appreciate your prayers for our family! 

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